French fries. Facials. A new pair of shoes. Three things you can never have too many of, which is why it was easy to find a woman willing to fling open the double doors of her closet and have her shoe collection organized. Meet Nicole Kennedy, who’s a stay-at-home mom with two daughters, Nadiyah, 3, and Sanaa, 2, and a self-proclaimed shoe-aholic. “I can’t resist a shoe sale,” she says. “I must have more than 100 pairs all over my house in boxes, plastic bins, and big piles.” We asked wardrobe consultant Jenny Gering, owner of Go Lightly in New York City, to step in and size up Nicole’s shoe situation. The outcome? A clutter-free area worth kicking up those heels over!
5 easy steps to ending shoe-closet chaos
(1) Pare down
Jenny advises taking all your shoes out of the closet (and rounding up any strays in other rooms). Then sort them into the following piles: summer, winter, everyday, and formal.
(2) Grin and bare it
Next, remove everything else: clothes, purses, bags, and boxes. Starting from scratch makes it easier to decide which pairs should go where and which ones can go the way of Goodwill.
(3) Ground rules
Reserve space on your closet floor for what you wear often–work shoes, Saturday sneakers. The Chrome Expandable and Stackable Shoe Rack holds 18 pairs and stretches to 46 inches; Bed Beth & Beyond, $14.99.
(4) What’s under the bed?
Keep shoes that aren’t in season in this Clear Vinyl Divided Underbed Shoe Chest, The Container Store, $14.99. Wrap shoes in tissue paper for extra protection.
(5) Fancy feet
Store your most precious pairs in see-through containers so they’re easy to spot when a special occasion comes along; Clear Stacking Storage Drawers, Hold Everything, $49 for a set of six.
Pair by pair, all of Nicole’s shoes made it back into her closet–only now she can see them! “I love that I can just reach into my closet and instantly find the pair I want to wear,” she says.
Make finding the perfect purse for any pair of shoes a breeze by filing bags away in this Makati Newspaper Basket, The Container Store, $29.99.
For instant upkeep, have a maintenance kit handy, including shoe polish and sponges, extra laces, padded insoles, and shoe shapers. Makati Magazine Basket, The Container Store, $29.99.
Shoes you wear only once in a blue moon can go on a high shelf in transparent boxes.
Because Nicole has a weakness for pretty, summery flip-flops, we made room for her collection in the Linnan Closet Organizer, which attaches to a rod with a Velcro strap; Ikea, $12.95.
Can these shoes be saved?
We asked Redbook staffers to hand their out-of-commission shoes over to New York cobbler extraordinaire Arty Zeva of Arty’s Shoe Repair. Find out which shoes lived to pound the pavement again.
Yes, you can lower those sky-high pumps you splurged on to walking level.
Cost: About $8 to shave off a half inch (removing any more will make the shoe unbalanced)
Time: 10 minutes
Got a gaping hole where a seam should be? No problem. Your favorite loafers can be resoled or “half-soled” over the bad spot.
Cost: $20 to $35
Time: A day or two
If you’re sauntering along and your strap snaps, there’s hope. Serious shoe glue puts it back in place–for good.
Cost: About $5
Sorry–after leather stretches too far or suffers water damage, it’s ruined. To help shoes retain their shape, use a water-resistant spray, and when they’re off your feet, slip foam shoe trees into them.
REDBOOK INSTANT EXPERT
1 If you prefer to store your shoes in an over-the-door hanging shoe bag, put each pair in the pocket sole-to-sole to prevent scuffing.
2 If you have a deep closet with insufficient light, keep a flashlight on the floor or hang one on the door so you can quickly survey the far reaches.
3 Got shoes that haven’t been out of the house in two years? Say so long to them; they’re just hogging space. Bottomless Closet accepts donations for women in need. Find a drop-off site near you or a mailing address at www.bottomlesscloset.org.
more shoe-storage smarts
* Another way to cut the time you spend searching for the right shoe: Keep each pair in the original box and tape a Polaroid of the shoes to the outside.
* No need to buy those budget-busting fillers for your high boots. Stuffing them with ordinary tissue paper protects their shape just as well.